Prayers, please, for J., who is facing serious financial problems
meeting her house taxes because of family medical costs. Need a lot
of help here, please. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. AND
He will always take care of us! Thanks so much! JL
April 14, August 14, December 14
Chapter 60: On Priests Who May Wish to Live in the Monastery
If any ordained priest
should ask to be received into the monastery,
permission shall not be granted too readily.
But if he is quite persistent in his request,
let him know
that he will have to observe the whole discipline of the Rule
and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor,
that it may be as it is written:
"Friend, for what have you come (Matt. 26:50)?"
It shall be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot
and to give blessings and to celebrate Mass,
but only by order of the Abbot.
Without such order let him not make any exceptions for himself,
knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule;
but rather let him give an example of humility to all.
If there happens to be question of an appointment
or of some business in the monastery,
let him expect the rank due him
according to the date of his entrance into the monastery,
and not the place granted him
out of reverence for the priesthood.
If any clerics, moved by the same desire,
should wish to join the monastery,
let them be placed in a middle rank.
But they too are to be admitted only if they promise
observance of the Rule and stability.
St. Benedict here is simply insisting again on equality. Just as he
wanted the rich to divest themselves of privilege at entrance, so
does he want the clergy to put aside the privileges that their status
gave them in the world.
This has been difficult in our Order's history to apply. Canon law
itself has given more than a bit of trouble in this respect,
guaranteeing that priests had to be governed by ordained major
superiors and so forth. There have also been backlashes of
anticlericalism among brothers in some areas in the last 50 years.
Neither extreme is a happy one.
Cling instead to what St. Benedict is saying here to all of us about
the equality of all. Only for virtue or experience (or because the
Abbot deems to do so,) may one be placed before another. WOW! Picture
a world run on that model, picture even a corporation! St. Benedict
tries to give privilege only to those worthy of it. Would that every
human institution did that!
The quintessential question of the Holy Rule is that of
Jesus: "Friend, for what have you come?" The only acceptable answer
to the question is: "To seek God." That might be rephrased in any of
a number of ways, but that's the main event, the only game in town,
the end all be all of Benedictine monastic life.
It is very necessary, in stating that we seek God, to admit that we
haven't altogether found Him yet, nor will we ever do so before
death. Even in the beatific vision of heaven itself, we creatures
will never, ever get to the root of our Creator, to the "ground zero"
of God. Ain't gonna happen.
Another way of saying this is that we need to come to the Holy Rule
and to the Gospel and to Christ admitting how frighteningly little we
DO know. If we think holy orders or an MDiv or an MD or a BS have
corrected that problem, even slightly, well, maybe (you should pardon
the pun,) BS is just about all we've gotten from the experience.
For heaven's sake, after spending so many years of my life trying to
become clever, what a tremendous relief it is to be dumb:
pluperfectly, fallibly, humanly, screamingly, shriekingly DUMB! Boy,
I love it! Ignorance truly *IS* bliss, just like they told ya!
In one sense, I heartily recommend it. It is the only position from
which one may learn anything at all. Get too smart (or think you
have!) and you will never listen, another Benedictine hallmark. You
won't learn because all your energy will go into composing your
rejoinder or response. Such people do not learn. They merely joust.
Life is more than that, much more. Tons more.
Love and prayers,